My heart is a mysterious island with high walls to keep you out.
There’s no beach where you can land. I’ve even posted a few “No Trespassing” signs.
Because I’m terrified of intimacy. I’m afraid you will judge and criticize me. Maybe use my honesty against me, or you might reject me, causing even greater pain.
So, I withdraw.
I overprotect my heart and get hurt when you don’t seek me out and try to knockdown my defenses. Then I dwell in self-pity and build my walls even higher.
And it’s all so exhausting.
This is when I ask myself, “Is this the kind of life I want?”
It takes courage to open up and risk being judged or hurt. It takes courage to connect with others and to be open to God’s will. But this is vulnerability. It’s how we let go of our ego-protection.
Think of Gideon hiding in the winepress while war wages around him. He says he’s the weakest in his clan, that he’s no mighty warrior. Self-pity is his defense. It’s his normality. And he isn’t willing to change. Claiming to be the weakest is his way of shirking responsibility. And when God told him to tear down a pagan altar, he did it at night because he “was afraid of his family and the townspeople…” (Judges 6:27).
Shirking responsibility is his normality because he fears rejection and suffering. He fears people might judge and criticize him. He clings to what feels safe.
I can relate to Gideon.
His normality is my normality. I live in past pain and perpetuate the façade that I’m not available for those who long to know me. I’m afraid of what people might say.
I hide behind weakness and self-pity. I make excuses for not opening up my life to those who need my intimacy.
And I long for the kind of trust Gideon eventually established with God. And I’ve begun the process of knocking down some barriers on the island of my heart. It’s not as mysterious.
The first step is exposure. It sounds terrifying, I know. But it’s the only thing that frees us from our bondage. The walls must come down. So, just be honest about where you are in the journey. Be truthful with your heart. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…” (Proverbs 3:5).
Trust the process. “… the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” God won’t shame us. He protects our heart. “A bruised reed he will not break…” (Matthew 12:20).
We must feel worthy of love by God.
The next step is movement.
We must make a choice to go forward with an open heart, which may make us feel exposed. Maybe even a little foolish. But these are good feelings because they prove that we’ve hidden our heart behind barriers. Now we are coming into the light. Otherwise, we wouldn’t feel exposed.
So, don’t think it strange.
It’s the beginning of vulnerability.
Brené Brown says when you find places where you can be vulnerable, run to them!
It’s the first move toward intimacy. And, sure, it’s scary.
But if greater intimacy with God and people is what we want, then we have no other choice.